Steve Miyamoto's Reviews > The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House

The Preacher and the Presidents by Nancy Gibbs
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's review
Aug 13, 2007

it was amazing
Read in January, 2007

It was remarkable to me how Graham was able to become a trusted advisor to some of the most powerful people on the planet over the last 50 years. Graham is shown to be a man who used whatever tools were at his disposal including his name and reputation to build the Kingdom of God and spread the message of the gospel.

I thought this was a politically well balanced book. It presents the failings of the Presidents on both sides of the aisle fairly and often very critically. It also portrays the Presidents as flawed and as human as anyone else on the planet and just as in need of grace.

One of the best stories was how, during the dedication of the George Bush library, Hillary Clinton pulled Graham aside privately and told him that Bill had cheated on her and asked for prayer and guidance. While I can disagree with her politics, this was a personal and private story of a woman who when faced with one of the most crushing moments of her life turned to a man who embodied grace.

Graham was often criticized for befriending and advising Nixon and other Presidents, without judgement or condemnation. Yet that is what makes his demonstration of grace, and his very personal witness of God's grace even more powerful. Long after Nixon was disgraced, he turned to Graham to perform his mother's funeral. At the end of the day, Graham was there for Nixon, who collapsed weeping in Graham's arms. That's what grace is all about.

My initial comments:
Just read the excerpt from the August 20 issue of Time Magazine. I have always admired Billy Graham's ability to build relationships with some of the most powerful people in the world. He doesn't get too theological, he just preaches the hope in Christ.


The President even scripted his own exit. One day [Lyndon] Johnson took Graham on a walk around his Texas ranch, to a clearing in the trees near where his parents were buried. Johnson wanted to know if he would see them again in heaven. And then another question: Would Billy preach at his funeral? Johnson knew the world listens when a President dies. "Don't use any notes," he said, and no fancy eulogizing either. "I want you to look in those cameras and just tell 'em what Christianity is all about. Tell 'em how they can be sure they can go to heaven. I want you to preach the Gospel." And just one more thing. "Somewhere in there, you tell 'em a few things I did for this country."

When he got home, Graham wrote to Johnson, expressing his love and reassurance, in case Johnson still had any doubts. "We are not saved because of our own accomplishments," Graham reminded the President. "I am not going to Heaven because I have preached to great crowds or read the Bible many times. I'm going to Heaven just like the thief on the cross who said in that last moment: 'Lord, remember me.'"

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